The Israeli company Steakholder Foods has launched a plant-based, 3D-printed eel on the market, creating a first in the fish industry. Using its own patented 3D printing technology, Steakholder Foods has succeeded in faithfully reproducing the complex texture of eel.
According to CEO Arik Kaufman, the printing process enables a significant reduction in the number of ingredients required compared to conventional plant-based alternatives. The 3D-printed eel could therefore compete with real eel in terms of price and represent a more sustainable alternative. Steakholder Foods is already planning partnerships to provide other companies with 3D printers and “inks” for eel production.
The global eel market is worth over 4 billion dollars, but suffers from overfishing and other challenges. Steakholder Foods estimates that its technology can be used to produce hundreds of tons per month on an industrial scale – and potentially more cheaply than fishing. According to Kaufman, this could open up new potential efficiencies for partner companies and pave the way for more sustainable practices in the seafood industry.
In addition to plant-based ingredients, Steakholder Foods is also researching the integration of cultured eel cells. According to the CEO, 3D printing technology makes it possible to produce a wide variety of products on one production line, which can significantly increase profitability.
With the 3D-printed eel, Steakholder Foods is underlining the possibilities of 3D printing for the future of the food industry. If cultured fish cells can be successfully integrated, the technology could help to curb overfishing and protect marine fauna.